Dark Music Review – Self Destruction Themes
Review Written By Casey Douglass
Pedro Pimentel returns to Cryo Chamber with his second album on the label, Self Destruction Themes. This time with help from Amund Ulvestads beautiful cello performances, Simon Heaths textural piano work and Apocryphos atmospheric distortion layers.This is a massive album of cold but inviting atmospheres, filtered noise, acoustic layering and sweeping textural layers. The sad theme throughout the album paints images of a world depopulated and of overgrown and dilapidated cityscapes.
Listening to Worldclock’s Self Destruction Themes, my mind went a slightly different way to the above album blurb. The cold, inviting atmospheres part I certainly got, along with the sadness. As sometimes happens though, I went my own way with my own mental impressions, so along with the track descriptions are my own mental images, which may not really fit with the depopulated and dilapidated cityscapes aspect of the description. I’m a maverick that way. On to the tracks.
Here We'll Be Gone – A sustained high note is joined by a low rumble as other notes scissor their way in. Strings and snatches of wind create a sombre mood. Footsteps in the snow gave me the impression of someone walking through snow into the wilderness as the soundscape deepens. A strengthening of the string notes is joined by dripping water as things take another turn, darkness settling in as night approaches.
The Fever Of Our Waiting – Creaking and dripping sounds are joined by a light drone. This is over-layed with teased strings and is later joined by a large wall of sound. Maybe the snow-walker is forced to shelter in an old stone floored hut as a storm brews outside. Repeating string notes really create a great feeling of atmospheric energy. The occasional screech of an unexpected string note is great to hold the listener’s interest. The track ends in a bit of a maelstrom as the storm hits.
It May Come – Static rain and echoing piano sound as the dawn breaks. Dripping water and a light atmosphere seem to the forefront now, water droplets glowing on twigs as the strings play once more. The calm after the storm, and a calm mind finding a sense of acceptance.
When Indecision Strikes – Piano, strings and drone all in tone with each other. A staticy backdrop is punctuated by metallic creaks and rattles. The decision of whether to leave the hut or not? Distant voices of a crowd add a surreal aspect, maybe the ghosts of possibility. Outside pressing in. Agoraphobic. The world carrying on without you.
Something More – A swelling voice-filled clattering grows in volume. Odd clangs and a variety of string sounds create a muzzy feeling, maybe the pressures of two possible paths or realities butting up against one another. Leaving the cabin or not?
More Often Than Not – This track starts with the sound of traffic driving along wet roads. A sombre melody begins after a few moments, strings and piano working together to create a feeling of dull mundanity, kind of like walking home as the night draws in, the street lights only now showing their first sickly shade of colour before the bulbs fully warm up. The title, and the sound of this track make me think of the coming down after the transcendental, taking the boring route rather than using the realisations you've experienced to lead a more exciting life. Maybe any peace felt by the traveller in the snow has fast evaporated as they enter civilization again.
Every Shade – This track begins in a lighter fashion, a lighter drone and prominent string notes giving some sense of joy and optimism to things. If the previous track was a mundane and rainy walk home, this track is spying the last rays of the sun piercing through cracks in the almost black clouds, their rays dazzling just before they vanish for the night.
Something Else – A hissy start with distant string notes piercing the soundscape. A drone looms in the background, slowly taking a more prominent role. The string notes fall repeatedly, sounding more and more like a wail. Sounds of dripping water creeps in as the strings take on a more melodious aspect, other lighter notes swelling above. This track could be a return to the same dingy house, the same crumpled bed-sheets, the same, the same, the same.
32 Walls – What sounds like plastic flapping is joined by see-sawing strings and a gentle dark drone, a feeling of a dark space opening around the listener, snatches of whispered words insinuating themselves slickly into the ear as a thumping beat reverberates through everything. This track could hint at the dark night of the soul, or even the old hag visitations of myth and folklore. Stifling and cloying, like being shut in a room for too long without any fresh air. Maybe a prison of thoughts, of desperation and desires unfulfilled. The thumping beat is joined by what sounds like dripping water hitting the ground at the same interval, the high and low qualities of each sound creating a great metronomic effect. Ghostly piano and the ever present strings finish the effect, making a solid soundscape that is a joy to listen to.
Lack of Language – A slowly rising vocal effect meets a floating resonance that splits the air, leaving an “ahhhh” sound in the mind. A thumping beat similar to the previous track begins, although faster, a little more like a heart that isn't quite at rest. This sets up the track’s momentum nicely. Another percussive beat joins the first, flittering brush strokes, almost military in fashion. Piano joins and the music swells creating a soundscape that feels like the end credits to a particularly sad film, one in which the hero tried but couldn't quite cut it. I guess in the images created by the previous tracks, this could be the music after the protagonist’s suicide, their way of escaping the 32 walls possibly.
Well what can I say, Self Destruction Themes was certainly a sad and melancholic trip for me, but one that was enjoyable even so. The prominence of the string and piano notes aided this effect as I always feel them to be quite melancholy notes at the best of times. Add in a little dripping water and audio grain and I am well on the way to imagining grey worlds filled with corroded metal.
I think When Indecision Strikes and More Often Than Not are probably my favourite tracks, the static, creaking and crowd noise of the first was very pleasing to me, the rainy misery of the latter also appealing in a gloomy kind of way. Lack of Language also gets a shout out for being a great culmination to the album.
I give Self Destruction Themes 4/5, a fascinating journey into bleakness with the knack of creating soundscapes that all feel different, yet share the same sad theme. Good stuff!
Visit the Self Destruction Themes page on Bandcamp at this link for more information.
I was given a free copy of the album to review.
Album Title: Self Destruction Themes
Album Artist: Worldclock
Label: Cryo Chamber
Release Date : December 15, 2015